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Freshman Year of College + Life Update

Helloooooo all of you lovely people!

Long time no see? talk? post!

I promised myself no apologies for not blogging, so here I am, not apologizing. Instead, I’m saying hello! I’ve missed you all so much. Freshman year is over (and no it hasn’t hit me yet) and I’m currently sitting in my dorm room with my tower fan on full blast and the windows open because New York is HOT, y’all.

So, what am I doing now? Why am I still in my dorm room? Basically, I’m in NYC until the end of July (!!!) working at Barnard. I’m staying on campus (bless free room and board in exchange for work) and doing anything and everything I want to do in New York.

So far, I’ve watched the entirety of the new Netflix documentary series “The Keepers” (WATCH IT IT’S SO GOOD IT’S LIKE CRIMINAL MINDS AND SPOTLIGHT ALL IN ONE) and too much Criminal Minds. I’ve attempted to work on my book but have yet to find inspiration or the motivation, and have read ten pages of The Handmaid’s Tale while riding the Subway. I joined a gym (!!! ADULTING!!!!) and realized I, despite having lived in Texas my entire life, somehow don’t own enough summer clothes. Don’t ask.

Anyways, life is good. I’m cooking for myself again, which I love, and have been going to sleep whenever I want and watching Netflix until I can’t anymore. I’ve walked through New York in 90 degree weather, went to Midtown (I never go to Midtown) and checked another museum off of my to-see list.

This summer is all about three things: exploring, passions, and ME. My goals for the summer are to do things in New York I’ve been meaning to do for ages but just haven’t and to re-connect with the things I love. These two things tie into my last goal, which is to focus on myself. I was super busy this year and put self-care on the back burner (don’t do this!!!!) and now it’s time to take care of myself. Not in the health way, but in the love way. Do things that make me happy, spend time on my own, re-connect with my heart and mind. That sounds so cheesy, but it’s something I never realized was so important.

My last point ties into the second half of this post: COLLEGE!!!! I wanted to a “Freshman Year of College Tips, Tricks, and Things I Wished Someone Told Me” wrap-up post, so here it is:

COLLEGE! ! !

1. It’s okay not to be homesick. (And here’s how not to be!)

I wasn’t homesick this year. Like, at all. That partly is me and my relationship with my hometown (aka I couldn’t wait to go somewhere new) but I think it’s also a product of what I did my first two months of school. Basically, I threw myself into making friends. I had almost every meal with someone, I studied with other people, I had movie nights with my friends, I stayed up late talking, I went out in the city with them. I just spent all of my time around other people. I was also crazy busy because of this–between school, work, and friends, I didn’t have a lot of time to just be on my own and be bored.

This is me, laughing at my best friend, in our favorite hidden gem park.

Which is how I wasn’t homesick. I didn’t have the time to think about home. I didn’t have the time to get sad. I was around people who made me happy and that kept me in a good mood. But, I think it also played into my lack of self-care — because I was around other people all the time, I didn’t have time to do the things that make me happy, most of which are solo activities. Watch Netflix, read books, write. I didn’t do any of those things for my first two months of college. However, I wouldn’t change what I did my first two months, because I think it turned out really well in the end.

And to the name of this thing-I-wished-someone-told-me, everyone was confused why I wasn’t homesick. I felt like there was something wrong with me because I wasn’t homesick. And that’s not okay–if you aren’t homesick, that’s ok. That’s perfectly fine! Everyone’s college experience is different because we all come from different backgrounds, and your feelings about starting college aren’t weird or bad because they aren’t the “norm”.

2. Communal bathrooms aren’t bad! You won’t die from having a “random” roommate! You don’t need every shred of clothing you own!

I went an entire year with communal showers and let tell you, I didn’t have a single moment where I was like “I HATE THESE THINGS!!!!!!” Let me tell you, having someone else clean your bathroom is a pretty sweet deal. As is not having to wait for a shower or bathroom while your roommate is in there. As is not having to pay for toilet paper, paper towels, soap, cleaning supplies, etc. I loved my communal bathroom! #unpopularopinion

On the topic of roommates: I’m so happy I didn’t pick a roommate from the admitted students page because I never would’ve picked my roommate based on Facebook but we fit so well. We’ve become best friends and I miss her SO. MUCH. We had very different childhoods and have some different habits, but we also are super similar. We joke about the fact that Residential Life must have looked at our personal essays or something because our roommate questionnaire was too short to be able to match us. And yet! They did! I think it’s super important to live with someone with a different background from you because it’s part of what going to college is all about. So, basically, I couldn’t be happier with my living situation this year.

And PACKING. Please don’t bring your entire wardrobe to college. You will wear a quarter of it. Also, don’t go college shopping before you move to college. Your style will change upon going to college, I swear to you. The stuff I wear now I never would’ve worn in Austin because I live in a different environment. So save your money and go shopping once you arrive at college.

3. College is hard. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

I went from being a straight-A student to being a solid B student in college. And at first it was a shock. But then it was SO relieving. Unless you have an academic scholarship, your freshman year in college is the time when your grades really don’t matter. So don’t kill yourself trying to get a 100% on every assignment, or by taking classes you think will be easy but you’ll hate. Instead, take classes that you’re interested in! Even if you get bad grades, you’re learning and that’s what college is ALL about.

Also, college is really freaking hard. Don’t hold yourself to the same expectations that you had in high school. Instead, try and take some of the pressure off of yourself. It’ll make the workload of college a whole lot easier.

4. HAVE FUN!

College is yes, about getting a degree, but it’s also about figuring out who you are as an adult. So have fun. Meet new people. Try new things. Face your fears.

HAVE FUN.


That’s all I can think of right now, but please let me know if you have questions about college! I love answering questions and I love college, so I’m honestly the perfect person to ask.

Hugs to all of you and talk to you soon! (I promise. I’m really trying to make blogging more regular.)

HEY FAM I’M BACK

HELLOOOO my lovely blog readers!

It’s Willa and I have risen from the dead and have decided it’s high time I wrote a post. Basically, I’ve been drowning under schoolwork and workwork that I have had zero time to do anything that makes me happy (like read, write, watch Criminal Minds, nap, write blog posts, etc) and so my blog has fallen by the wayside (again).

I’ve decided I’m not going to apologize, though.

This semester I’ve learned the really important lesson that I have to make time for me to take care of myself in the ways I need. (I’m writing a full-length post of this so this is all I’m going to say for right now on this!) Through learning this, I’ve also realized I need to take the pressure off of myself to write blog posts, read, write, etc and instead do what makes me happy and fulfilled and if that means watching four episodes of Criminal Minds instead of reading, that’s what I should do.

So, basically, I’ve been too busy lately, but I’ve taken some things off my plate and hope I’ll be feeling up to posting more! If not, sorry kiddos–you’ll see me when you see me.

Anywho–what have I been up to recently? Well, I’m glad you asked.

school

WOWZERS has school been killing me lately. I upped my courseload this semester to five classes, seventeen hours (yikes) and it’s been a lot. I’m taking this English class that blows my mind on the regular but is also a ton of reading (we’re reading eight full-length books in one semester. like. what.) so that’s been taking a lot of my time. Plus, I’m in a history class with a ton of primary source material reading + a seminar class with twenty page+ readings twice a week. So, basically, I’ve been drowning in readings.

However, I’ve been loving my classes. I’ve discovered that I’m meant to be a History major (HELLOOO MY LOVE FOR HISTORICAL FICTION) and am considering minoring in English. But maybe I won’t minor in it. I’m not sure right now. Basically, I’ve decided that I need to take the pressure off of myself that I need to study any specific thing and rather just let my heart lead me in the right direction. The plan is to take all the cool classes I can and see where that takes me!

work

If you’ve been keeping up with my on Twitter, you may have noticed that I’m working as an intern at the moment! I’m interning at a literary agency as an office assistant, which means I’ve become a pro-mailer and have perfected the art of filing. It’s been an incredible experience mainly because I’ve learned SO much these past three months about the publishing industry and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. It’s definitely where I belong!

(If you have any questions about literary agency internships shoot me an email!)

I’m also in the process of applying for internships for the summer (yuck) which is taking a huge portion of my time. Publishing is such a hard industry to break into so it means I’ve been applying for everything I can find (aka I’ve been writing cover letters 24/7).

life

I LOVE NEW YORK

Just had to get that out there. Since interning, I’ve been spending a lot more time in the Flatiron district and grown to really love it. I’ve gotten used to grocery shopping in New York (a time commitment, let me tell you) and gotten the hang of commuting. I haven’t done as much touristy-stuff as I was hoping, sadly, but I’m hoping to do more now that my schedule has cleared up a bit more. I was planning to hit the streets this week since it’s my spring break, but a snowstorm hit (@Stella) and so my days have involved more time in my bed than out in the city.

If you have questions about NYC livin’, let me know! I’m always up to answer questions about living in the city or going to school here.

future posts?

I’m planning to write a couple over break so I should be having some content coming your way soon.

Thanks for staying around, folks and LOVE YOU BUNCHES

 

also I’M GOING TO BEA SO HIT ME UP IF YOU ARE ALSO GOING AND LET’S HANG

Becoming politically involved as a college student

When I started school in the fall, one of the places where I found a home was in the weekly meeting held by the Columbia University Democrats. Now, I don’t usually talk about politics on this blog, but it’s pretty obvious on my Twitter account where I lie on the political map. In the recent months, I feel like I’ve become more politically aware, and also have become far more active politically. However, sometimes it becomes difficult in college to know how to be active politically, and also find time to read the news and stay current. I’ve listed out some of my tips on how to accomplish both of these things during a busy school year in this post and hope they help!

1. Follow a variety of news sources on your favorite social media platforms

I’m a firm supporter of the New York Times, and they are definitely my most read newspaper, but I also read CNN, The Washington Post, Politico and many other news sources. However, in addition to reading the news by directly going to these sites, I follow all of these sites on Twitter, and I love the New York Times on Instagram as well. I highly recommend including news sources on your social media feeds so that you can see news in your feeds frequently.

 2. Check out your school’s political organizations

Personally, joining Columbia Democrats has allowed me to become more educated on political issues I wasn’t well educated about, and also helped me to broaden my scope of thought. Having political conversations with people from all over the country from a variety of backgrounds has been an indispensable experience that has given me a better context for interpreting current events. Also, having an organization to talk about current events with has been incredibly beneficial in helping me to digest the news and form an informed opinion.

3. Get to know your local officials

I’m going to an out-of-state school, and so this is one of my goals for the coming year. I want to gain a better understanding of where New York officials stand on political issues, and also learn more about how the New York state Legislature works. I highly encourage students who have gone to a new state for college to learn more about the state they’ve moved to!

Hanging out in the sun in Reading, PA where I canvassed for Hillary Clinton in the fall.

4. Volunteer and organize!

Canvassing for Hillary Clinton was one of the most powerful and transformative experiences of my life. I urge everyone to canvass at least once for an issue, a person, or a piece of legislation they feel passionate about because it will give you this incredible feeling inside–it left me feeling like I truly create change. So get involve! You can canvass and organize constantly, and it’s work that must be done.

5. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinions–but be cognizant of the words you use

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in the past few months is the importance of word choice when it comes to talking about politics. It’s very easy to use a word that misrepresents what you mean and suddenly your sentiment is lost along the way. So, while it’s vital that you speak up and have conversations about politics, it’s even more important that you are aware of your word choice and avoid inflicting harm with your words.


This was a bit of an unconventional post, but one that’s incredibly important to me! Let me know in comments some of your suggestions for being politically active when a busy schedule makes it difficult.

Honesty Hour

Hey friends.

Thought it was time for a bit of an honesty hour. I was reading Xan’s blog and came across this post on getting out of the blogging slump (which, PSA, I’m totally in) and it inspired to me to come clean to all of you fabulous readers.

I’m in SUCH A BIG SLUMP. 

Blogging slump is killing me. I feel unmotivated to do reviews, questioning why I blog in the first place, and feeling just all around not interested in my blog. This past month the thought of “why don’t I just stop?” cross my mind so. many. times. But, I’ve decided to stick it out. The last time this happened to me I was able to jump back in by shaking up my content, so I’ve decided I need to do that.

This blog might turn into more of a lifestyle + book review blog. I think it’s basically just going to be a place where I post whatever I darn well please, and I’m honestly over the moon about that. (As I write those words there’s this pressure lifted off of my chest!) Start expecting more posts from me on a variety of topics, from NYC to college to books to music, movies, dogs, memes. WHO KNOWS.

However, this semester is going to be insanely busy for me. I’ve got a really exciting job I’m going to be working on this semester (I’m not sure if I can talk about it so I’m not saying what it is yet!) which will take up a lot of my time, so I don’t know how much time I’ll have left for blogging. So, just as a precaution, I may not be as consistent as I want to be. But I’m going to give blogging my best shot. I’ve got some ideas that I’m excited to work on and hope you all enjoy!

the reading slump

Oh gosh guys.

The reading slump?

SO. REAL.

I told myself that winter break was going to my reading marathon time, but instead I’ve been so brain-dead that I can barely do more than watch TV when it comes time to chill out. Forget that huge stack of library books I got at the beginning of break, I’m not more than fifty pages into any of the books I started.

But, at the same time, I also don’t really…care?

For the first time in my life, I’m realizing there isn’t a pressure for me to read. I’m not getting ARCs, there’s no one demanding reviews of me, I’m not taking any blog tours or promotions, it’s just me and my little blog and the books if I’m feeling like reading. To be able to go into the library and say “Hmm, this looks cool–I’m going to read it!” For the first time, I can think “Hey! I want to read some adult books! And I have the ability to do it without having to rush it!” or realizing “This is backlist? SO WHAT!”

Those thoughts are so freeing.

But: I’m not reading.

The prospect of reading just…isn’t exciting me like it used to? I don’t feel the desire to read.

And this PAINS me.

My plan of action? Sit in this place. Read when I want. Not pressure myself to read, and instead spend my time doing things I really want to do. Focus my energies in other places for a little while. I will always go back to reading, but maybe I need a little break right now.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll start reading obscure Ukranian fiction. (That was the weirdest thing I could think of.)

big picture?

There’s a lot of pressure in the blogging world to feel like you HAVE to read. That you’re crazy if you just don’t feel like reading. I thought for a long time the way to combat that was to force myself to read. But what if that doesn’t work? What if that just pushes off a larger issue?

So I’m letting my body and mind run the show here. I’m letting go of the niggling feeling that’s screaming “YOU! MUST! WRITE! OR! YOUR! LIFE! WILL! BE! OVER! AND! YOU! WILL! NO! LONGER! BE! HUMAN!” (Okay, maybe not that dramatic. But you get the jist.)

Either way, here we go friends! Let’s see where this semester takes us. I’m hoping the reading comes back, but I’m not making any promises. I’m in a slump, and I’m kind of….enjoying it?


How are you guys doing? Any fellow slump-ees out there? TELL ME YOUR FEELINGS.

Doing New York On A Budget

nyc-on-a-budget

New York is known for being expensive, and for a lot of people, it’s difficult to visit the city because of the price tag attached. However, it’s completely possible to see all of the incredible things New York has to offer without breaking the bank! After spending a semester in New York City on a college student’s budget (aka very small) I feel like I’ve gained a bit of an idea on how to live in the city on a budget, and here are my tips on how to do it.

plan ahead

One of the best things I learned about New York once I moved here is that this city is AMAZING with discounts. Most museums have free or discounted days, and all of the big ones have student discounts (SCORE!). If you can, try to schedule your trip around those days so you can take advantage of as many deals as possible! I’ve put together all of the “pay-what-you-wish” and free days at various popular New York museums, and I highly recommend you check them out. I’m still trying to get to all of them!

nyc-museum-times

go to the park(s)

New York is chalk full of parks, and I adore spending an afternoon in a park. Plus, they’re FREE! Head to a grocery store and grab some bits for a picnic, pick up a cheap book from The Strand, and head to one of the many parks in the city. Or, if you’re in the mood for a nice long walk, walk through Central Park. It’s a beautiful walk, and I highly recommend going off the main roads. You’ll find hills, massive rocks, beautiful trees, and quiet peaceful areas that make you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere rather than in the middle of the city.

Check out the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation for a complete guide to fun activities happening in the parks around the city: https://www.nycgovparks.org/highlights/places-to-go

(Aneeqah and I got a slice of cake from Magnolia Bakery and spent the afternoon in Central Park and it was by far one of the highlights of my weekend with her.)

food

Eating in New York on a budget is no easy feat, let me tell you. My pro-tip: SHARE FOOD. Not only can you get a larger variety, but you also end up paying less! Also, don’t feel like you need to try every kind of food on the face of the earth. This is something I have to remind myself of on a daily basis. Also, food in touristy areas is always more expensive than food in less-popular areas of the city, so try to not get food right next-door to a museum or in the middle of Times Square.

I also recommend stalkingNew York foodie Instagram accounts prior to your trip and making a list of places you want to go. This way, you can look at menus and price out spots, and then you go into the trip with an idea of the restaurants you want to go to ahead of time! Planning your food can also help you figure out what other spots to hit up.

transportation

Don’t take a cab, my friends.

I repeat, do not take a cab. (Obviously, this is if you have the option not to.)

(Obviously, this is if you have the option not to.)

WALK. Seriously. Walk everywhere. Use your two legs and see the city as you walk around–it’s a great way to find places to eat, stop into, and to get a feel for the city. I adore walking around the city and do it when at all possible.

To get between areas, get a MetroCard and take the Subway! Not only will you see the people of the city, but it’s also such a New York experience. My personal rule is that I don’t take the Subway unless the distance I would be walking is farther than five subway stops. That’s somewhere around twenty blocks AKA nothing! Definitely doable. Using this rule also helps you save money!

For help getting around the city, I highly recommend the “NYC Subway” app, which shows you a map of the island and allows you to plan routes between stops to see the best way to get there. It’s free in the app store! (Also, don’t be afraid to ask New Yorkers for directions. I haven’t met a rude one yet.)

I recommend centralizing your activities around one thing. For example, if you want to go breakfast at a certain spot in the Flatiron district, spend as much time as you can down in the Flatiron district. Then, walk over to Chelsea for dinner, go to the High Line in the evening and then head to bed. Only TWO Subway rides total if you plan it right!

(Also, MetroCards work on NYC buses, which go crosstown. You can take a crosstown bus through Central Park! Make sure to pay for your ticket PRIOR to getting onto the bus.)

housing

Hotels in New York are SO expensive. Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever stayed in one. I’ve been lucky enough to have family friends in the city who are willing to let my family and I stay with them, or I’ve stayed in Air-BNBs. I highly recommend one of these options if you can! Or, you can get a hotel in New Jersey and take the train into the city every day. (Trust me, it’s WAY cheaper to take the train in than spend an exorbitant amount of money on a hotel room in Manhattan.)


Let me know if you have other New York questions, or ideas for posts you’d like to see! I loved making this one and would love to make some more in the future.